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Legislatively Speaking

Lena C. Taylor

Did you vote early this election? Any chance you requested an absentee ballot? Feeling pretty good that you completed your ballot, got your prerequisite witness signature and dropped it in the mail? Or were you the first to the polls, when in-person early voting started on Tuesday, July 26th?

Well in less than a week, two candidates have dropped out of Wisconsin’s 2022 Primary Election. A total of three have withdrawn so far, and some voters are left scratching their heads. If one of those candidates was your guy, all is not lost.

Wisconsin is one of many states that has a law on the books that allows them to “spoil” their ballot. It’s a weird term, but a fresh way for a voter who for a number of reasons, may need to cancel out their earlier vote and cast another ballot. Ironically, the first time many residents learned about this option was during the 2020 election for U.S. President. A week ahead of Election Day, then-President Donald Trump tweeted that voters could recall their ballots, if they had voted for Joe Biden already, and vote for him.

Specifically on October 27, 2020, Trump tweeted “Strongly Trending (Google) since immediately after the second debate is CAN I CHANGE MY VOTE? This refers changing it to me. The answer in most states is YES. Go do it. Most important Election of your life!”

I remember constituents reaching out to ask if this was thing. Yes, it was a thing back then and it is a thing today. However, as usual, the former POTUS went off half-cocked and didn’t have all the facts. According to Politifact at the time, some states didn’t allow for already cast ballots to be recalled. Others differed on when ballots could be recalled, had clear guidelines, and even they could differ from county to county, within the same state.

According to THE CAP TIMES, as of July 27th, 140,000 Wisconsinites had already cast their ballots. Yet, while some voters were literally in the process of exercising their civic duty, a candidate was holding a press conference, to end their campaign. At this point in the process, the names of withdrawn candidates will still appear on the ballot. Some of you may have voted for a candidate who is no longer in the race.

Well, according to the Wisconsin Election Commission, a voter can request to “spoil” an already cast ballot by submitting a request to their local clerk, in writing or via email. A voter can spoil their ballot for reasons that include making a mistake, changing their mind as Trump suggested, or because my candidate dropped out of the race.

There are other rules you clearly need to understand about the process. However, there is a deadline to get this done. If voting by mail, the deadline is 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 4th. If voting absentee in person, the deadline is the end of the municipal clerk’s in-person absentee voting hours. We are fortunate to live in a state that provides a remedy for this situation and yes, a spoiled ballot is a thing!

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